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CINCINNATI – Most of Joe Blanton's pitches worked in his favor during his Angels debut. Luck? Not so much.
Shin-Soo Choo homered on Blanton's first pitch of the game on Thursday, the first of Cincinnati's three homers off the right-hander, and the Reds pulled away to a 5-4 victory over Los Angeles.
The Angels dropped two of three during the first interleague series to open a season.
Todd Frazier also had a solo homer off Blanton (0-1), and Chris Heisey's two-run shot put Cincinnati up 5-3 in the fifth. Blanton gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings, but came away happy with how he threw.
Choo's homer came on a pitch that was down and away, right where Blanton intended. The other ones came on a hanging sinker and slider, a couple of rare mistakes.
"I gave up three homers," said Blanton, who signed a two-year, $15 million deal in December. "Two of them were off mistakes, and I felt I made maybe a handful of them all day.
"That happens sometimes in baseball," he said. "One of those things that just happened out of the gate."
Heisey's homer was his first as the full-time left fielder. He's replacing Ryan Ludwick, who had surgery on Wednesday to repair torn cartilage in his right shoulder, an injury that will sideline him for at least the first half of the season.
Bronson Arroyo (1-0) gave up three runs in six innings, including Josh Hamilton's two-run single that was his first hit for the Angels. Albert Pujols drove in a pair of runs with a sacrifice fly and a groundout.
Left-hander Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth, converting his first save opportunity. Mike Trout led off with a single and was sacrificed to second, but Pujols flied out and Hamilton struck out.
The teams combined for seven homers and 63 strikeouts during the series. The Reds fanned 36 overall, a club record for the first three games of a season.
"No one up there likes striking out, but with the power we have we should be able to offset it and be OK," manager Mike Scioscia said.
The biggest hitters had a tough time getting started.
Pujols and Hamilton were a combined 0 for 17 with six strikeouts before they finally put something together in the third inning. Pujols doubled for his first hit, and Hamilton followed with a two-run single — Pujols slid into home safely while catcher Ryan Hanigan missed his leg while attempting the tag.
"Made me feel good," said Pujols, who got cut on the right shin by Hanigan's spikes during the slide. "I still have some speed."
Pujols also had a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring groundout, limping on his left foot after he'd run. Pujols is playing through pain from plantar fasciitis.
Scioscia was encouraged that Pujols and Hamilton seemed to be swinging better than in the first two games of the series. The Angels had 11 hits but stranded nine runners, four of them in scoring position.
"Guys definitely looked like they were on pitches better today," Scioscia said. "We just couldn't get that big hit in a couple of instances."
Choo got the Reds started with his sixth career leadoff homer. Frazier led off the second inning with a homer just inside the left field foul pole, and Heisey connected in the fifth.
The game featured the first replay of the season at Great American Ball Park. Frazier's fly ball went off the yellow padding atop the wall in the fourth, and he continued to third when center fielder Mike Trout bobbled the carom for an error. The umpires checked to make sure the ball didn't clear the wall. Frazier scored on Hanigan's sacrifice fly — Cincinnati's only run that didn't come off a homer.
Reds manager Dusty Baker got through the series without using left-handed setup man Sean Marshall, who's had some tiredness in the front of his pitching shoulder the last couple weeks. Marshall said on Thursday that he felt much better and should be available for the opener of a series against Washington on Friday.
NOTES: The Angels head to Texas to play Hamilton's former team in a weekend series. The Reds host the Nationals in a matchup of the NL's top two teams last year — Washington won 98 games, Cincinnati 97. ... Scioscia might use Pujols as the DH over the weekend to rest his sore left foot. "He's fine. If he's struggling with something, I'll consider giving him a day. I can look to DH him this weekend," Scioscia said.
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